Washington — The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits surged to a record 3.28-million last week as businesses shuttered and laid off workers as part of efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

In the biggest insight yet into the economic toll the pandemic is already inflicting, initial jobless claims in the week ended March 21 surged from 282,000 in the prior week and more than quadruple the previous record high of 695,000 in 1982, according to US labour department figures released on Thursday...

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